Mojo's Dojo


Writing to learn, learning to write. With practice comes clarity of purpose. #100days

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Day 25 - Doing what they won't dare

What would you tell your 13 year old self? How about your 17 year old self? I'll give you a can be any number of things, this isn't a stress test so take your time.

Where did your mind drift to? share it in the guest book, or email me the tale you wanted to tell your younger self, whether it was to throw pennies at a certain stock, or to avoid a certain fate. I'll keep your secret :)

Myself? I barely remember what I was doing at that age, outside of video games, lots and lots of video games, I think one full summer was spent playing Civilizations II. When I asked our friend Adnan, he said navigating relationships, because it's one of the most important skills a teenager needs as they navigate challenges they've never thought existed.

I agree with him, and I feel one milestone necessary to understand or navigate the relationships in the world around you, is to better understand your own motivations, and if you're not motivated, to have the courage to be ok with it.

Achieving is a rite of passage; though the obstacle you overcome is defined by the society you are a part of, you the individual are equally responsible to explore what achieving looks like for you.

I digress, I would tell younger me to smile more, surround myself with people who like to learn and experiment, and to ask for help more often and to have a little more fun, because everyone will stare, because you'll be doing what they won't dare.

Day 24 - Islamofuturism

I've been hearing recently that things are becoming much more restrictive for people looking to complete their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. The costs and rules are becoming prohibitive.

Part of this reality is that the mosque and its grounds are about or a tenth of Central Park in New York, and 2 million people squeeze in for a month.

Which had me wondering, as technology progressed, innovation took it's time, but slowly influenced the culture of the mosque. If you've travelled in the Levant, Northern Africa, or the Arabian Gulf, you'll have heard the call to prayer from loudspeakers.

There's also been much focus on the savvy use of social media by Daesh and their ilk. There have also been interesting apps coming out for use by the muslim community, like prayer time reminders, Arabic-English Quran translation, and meditation like applications.

It took sometime for loudspeakers to be used for sermons on Fridays, and as a community grows, the utility of a loud speaker for people further away from the imam to be able to hear the sermon, made practical sense.

By extension, would Augmented Reality (AR) have a use in the future? It is customary for one to gain the full reward of attending a prayer going early and being right up front, sat under the nose of the imam or preacher. Islamic jurists may at some point have to contend with increasingly possible technological applications. What other technology do you think will warrant exploration?

What if in some dark Trumpian future, the muslim ban is in full fourth reich effect, and they've closed down mosques for "national security" reasons. If someone wanted to have the full communal prayer experience, they could possibly make an argument to pray communally using AR. If you don't show up early, and "walk" to the front, you would have instead the ability to "pay to pray up front", plugged into an AR unit, the sound would be comparable to an authentic experience, the further you are (the less you pay, or the tardier you are) the harder it is to listen.

Day 23 - Who are your people and why are you here?

I grew up learning that most information fell into neat little boxes. Each day had different sets of information in boxes. Information outside the class timetable didn't matter.

I spent a large amount of time avoiding homework; spending most of my school afternoons with my legs splayed out in public library aisles. On days reading about the history of pirates, and trying to understand why the books I had were mostly about European pirates, on other days I spent reading the 'Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything' and books of that nature.

Suffice to say, I didn't excel at school. But, I learned that people can literally cry at the top of their lungs to get a higher grade, an that a passing grade had no consequence.

I've been fascinated with what makes people tick. I enjoy observing their behaviour, mannerisms, seeing the moment in their eyes that a decision is made, or when regret forms across their brow.

And though I shouldn't be surprised, I kept seeing that one person who cried for that higher grade and got it, everywhere. I don't mind when that person cuts the line in a queue, or wants to overtake me on a street, I let them. What I do mind, and what I'm more interested in, is when they're in an organization and are either labeled "high performer", "high potential", "high- ", or even better, "manager".

Sat in a circle, there's a question that's used by

The Art of Hosting Community to open the floor to a room, "Who are your people?, and why are you here?" It's a question I believe would suck the air out of anyone that has been used to wailing for the needs of one. 

What would it look like if people were pre-supposed to have the requisite skills to learn, grow and perform. What if bringing people to your organization, did not demand they fall into neat boxes, whether that's the box of likeness, or the box of Ivy. 

What if you could start an interview with the open-ended question, "who are your people? and why are you here?"

Day 22 - Mediocre life

I'm not under any illusions, I will lead a mediocre life, a middle-of-the-road, adequate, prosaic, lacklustre, tolerable life.

Don't misunderstand me, I believe I'm lucky my life is middling. Were I born in 1 AD, I would be 1 in 170 million, or 1 in 400 million, give or take a few million.

Today, I am 1 in 7.8 billion. To contrast this, my chances at winning the lottery are roughly 1 in 14 million.

Then consider that the odds of my soul/consciousness/whatever inhabiting a body in this particular time as opposed to say 200,000 years ago when the world population was 100,000 to 300,000 give or take a few thousand. That's got to be worth a few hundred lotteries.


"But Moe!" you say, "That's imaginary money!", sure, of course it is, what isn't imaginary? But doesn't it also help us understand why so many people of adequate means are unhappy. Every time you sneeze, 4 babies wail and 2 people leave us for parts unknown (no pun intended).

If you're ambitious, then yes, the grass is always greener, by all means, you do you, hopefully happily, but if you're not, if you are a workaday, unpretentious, middle-of-the-road pedestrian. Then you my friend are in for one amazing mediocre life. Live it well, live it adequately.

Day 21 - Photo prompt, “future”

I was on a roll there, I forgot about photo prompt day. There was a lot conceptualizing of the future today, partly because of little dude, and partly due to the nature of the conversations some friends are having.

Anywho, here we go!

Gardens by the bay

Gardens by the bay

Ever wonder what glitter would look like raining down from above? Mesmerizing to be sure. If you were on the 8th floor or higher, it looked like slowly drifting rainbow snow. The closer to the ground it got, the faster it turned into drops of rain, indistinguishable from any other rain. Except when it was on asphalt, it had the sheen of that rainbow coloured oil on a parking spot on rainy day.

At first, the world was abuzz with conspiracies, but what could cause uniform rain to descend the world over?

Then we waited, waited for it to signify something, anything. But we soon forgot.

We don't know how deep the root systems go, we don't know how they're impacting our environment, they're living breathing mountains, and the only thing we do know, is that they came to life after we crossed the first climate threshold of no return.

Day 20 - Asking for help

I needed help moving back into our home. With a new child, and with the apartment uninhabited for 4 months, I needed it to be ready for little dude. I felt overwhelmed, and I wasn't sure I could ask for help.

There is, to my supposition, a fine line between asking for help, and being overbearing. I tend to forego the option of asking, because I assume when I do ask for help, either I will be disappointed or I will be ignored.

As I think through it, I might be setting expectations that aren't realistic. By that I mean, I tend to assume, and expect, that because I ask for help so seldom, that I'm privy to it. That I somehow deserve it. It's an arrogant way to live, assuming there's chits you can throw in when it suits you. Or me rather. When it suits me.

My father used to say, if your hand is ever out, it should be with your palm facing down. No, nothing so dramatic as the Roman thumb, it was his way of saying I shouldn't ask for hand outs, but always be in a position to hand out. Like many philosophies, I assume, it's not so healthy to follow it to the letter. It's part of a mindset, or thought process that is black or white, almost a zero sum. I'm either a giver or a taker, and it's not good to take, therefore give until you arrogantly deserve to take.

I keep flipping between 'I' and 'You' because I'm horrified at the possibility that this is just me, so you're along for the ride friend.

I think the anxiety of asking for help, for me, tends to outweigh the act of asking, or the wait for the answer. I think the anxiety of the in-between, between the known and the unknown, is where my ego falters, becomes small,

If this leaves you unsatisfied, imagine how it feels for me.

Day 18 - Flight prediction

I think I'll finally be able to sleep on a plane, not because I'll be taking meds or drinking alcohol. But through sheer exhaustion.

I'll be over eastern Europe when this is published on tiny letter, inshallah...

Couldn't complete this before I flew but my hypothesis was wrong. The exhaustion was real, but little dude decided he wanted a human crib this time around.

So I ended up watching 5 movies, I think? It's all a blur, I saw the American remake of a French movie, it had the unusual pairing of Kevin Hart and Mr. Breaking Bad. I think it was the weaker movie because they chose famous characters.

Part of the reason I enjoyed the French version was the novelty of the plot. It might be that I felt it to be tired because the script seemed to almost be word for word, mixed up with Kevin's usual forced shenanigans and sprinkling of just enough blackness. Mr. Bad sort of phoned it in, and the only memorable part was the scene where he expressed anger and broke stuff vicariously through Mr. Black, because, you know, white people can't be angry without going full triple k.

I think I cleansed my palate with a series of animated movies, Lego Movie the second part, the third installation of the Training your dragon movies, except they stopped training sometime back, and washed that down with what was a silly attempt at making a show that once had men in tights, politically relevant to the currently sad climate of geopolitics.

There was also a movie called the Kindergarten Teacher, I figured I'd pick up a thing or two to Google about because the premise was about a teacher who gets a bit overzealous while trying to nurture a five year olds creativity while simultaneously using his smarts to fulfil her dream of being good at something. Or so I thought in my sleepless stupor.

I did finally sleep during daylight hours though, so that's something I previously couldn't do.

Day 19 - I don't interview well

I never have. I am routinely capable of selling myself short, I believe that this is a quality so consistent, it can also include elements of the fear of failure, spiked with Jonah Complex, with a dash of self-handicapping, and an inner critic as loud as the speakers in a car with a garish hubcaps.

But. For the majority of my adult life, I haven't had too much trouble with getting a job. When the objective of the work was something that challenged me, or I wanted to learn more about. I understood what roles disinterested me, and which energized me; I love the exchange I have with people smarter than I, so I've pursued roles with people I respect, or continuously engaged with people who are driven to explore, and who are kind. I'd like to emphasize the quality of being kind. Because no matter how curious you are, if you can't engage with others, and take them along with you on your journey, you will be lonely. Kindness begets warmth, which strengthens relationships, one of the more important elements of allowing yourself to be grateful for the life you live.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I wish I spent less time looking up jobs on static job boards, crafting ever so specific resumes and cover letters.

What would I do differently? Work at an earlier age, in different industries, Be selective of my university by only engaging with those who have coop programs, and commit to learning a skill for #100days before moving on.

I don't interview well, and I'm ok with that.

Day 17 - This is a challenge

No one set a limit for number of words, and I'll be lying across multiple time zones with a baby in tow. So this is a brief poem.

Stuff, much stuff we have
to carry, carry across sea and land
Harry, Harry was our agent man

That's all I got for you, purposely left it unsatisfying, because that's what packing and traveling with a baby is.

Day 16 - It's still happening

My youngest sister is in her early 20s, her friend was over watching the NBA finals, and we ended up talking about her 3 months break from work.

She remarked that it was very difficult for her to take the time, especially because she'd been working full time since she was 16. What made her leave? Because of what was missing.

She got tired of HR and their inability to listen, their failure at creating a space that doesn't foster psychological safety. Even though she did her due diligence, collected emails, followed reporting procedures and surprise, surprise, the HR business partner responsible for the business unit is not incentivized to carry it up the chain.

When I asked her why she thought that was the case, she felt that, even though she's been with the organization for more than 5 years, she as a young, person of color, was not respected enough, nor valued. She had the documentation to prove it, which was ignored.

She felt that the culture was resistant to change, that people who had family and were reliant on the income were too afraid to raise their voices, and overwhelmingly, she felt it to be a generational challenge.

One of the perceived issues is the large number of baby boomers reaching retirement age. With the older workforce stepping out, there were a larger number of senior positions but nothing to bridge the leadership gap for people who were with the organization for 5 years or longer. There was a missed opportunity to create experiences or stretch opportunities, to allow younger employees to step into roles with more responsibility.

This would require trust, something that is hard to foster in spaces lacking in psychological safety.

There will forever be labels created to better understand a segment of society, with "millenials" aging and facing an older, entrenched generation of "baby boomers", they'll need to create remember their own struggles, and start deeply listening to younger people entering the workforce to effect systemic change.

To learn more about systems change, I've found this podcast to be pretty accessible

Day 15 - The old world is burning

I witnessed a conversation between two men, both a product of trying times. Both clawed their way out of times uncertain, escaping a land where blood was more abundant than water. Both adamant that providing a better quality of life for their children is non-negotiable. Under no circumstance should their children feel unsafe, or want for the warmth of a home, or for an opportunity to learn.

Yet both men, after spending much time from home, find that their progeny are unmotivated, in their eyes wasting their life not taking stock of these opportunities and fully engaging these gifts towards a worthwhile purpose.

Ironically, what they conspired to give their children is freedom, and now, that these children are participating in a system where they have the freedom to be "unmotivated", these men find their world burning.

Day 13 - Serendipity

People perk up when they find a quarter on the ground, they maybe fist pump the air when they find a $10 bill in pants they never got around to washing, and get positively ecstatic and celebrate their fortune if it's anything over $20.

I think serendipity is overlooked, like the many pennies people walk past every day, like the overheard conversation that can get you to apply for that new role you didn't know was opening up, or the person that leaves the line to take a call and you get the last sandwich you've been craving.

These tiny interactions can easily be overlooked though arguably fortuitous. Would you rather a lifetime of consistently positively delightful yet small interactions or $1 million dollars?

Day 14 - Friends are a privilege

People stay in your life for a myriad of reasons. Though relationships tend to require a lot of work, there are a few that just work.

I'm talking about the friendships where you've forgotten why bonds were forged. The type where a person can walk in and out of your life without consternation, mostly because these bonds are free of expectations.

I wish I knew what kept them around, or what combination of memories allows them to overlook my absence, because if I've not been clear, it's me that floats in and out of people's lives.

Considering I've made a move from country to country every 2 to 3 years. I feel privileged to have friends in multiple geographies. Our meetings are never long enough to philosophize and wax lyrical, but it makes my world a little less lonely.

Thank you friend.

p.s. time stamp correct, but order isn't, not sure why. If you're from listed, please let me know what I can do about it currently using the following as a work around that doesn't work (created_at: 2019-06-12 14:08:05)

Day 12 - Flight control

Ever wonder what luggage looks like in a plane's cargo hold? Why are they ugly rectangles. I mean, did someone just slap wheels on boxes, and that's just been the way it is?

Also, why is it so expensive to lug stuff around, the material it's made of must cost a few dollars. It's sturdier than cardboard but not by much.

Are the dimensions of boxes we lug around on planes dictated by the physics of efficient packing? Would people be interested in paying a subscription fee for standardized luggage supplied by the airline for a subscription fee, guarenteeing them 30 kgs instead of the 23 kgs? Would standardized luggage save the companies fuel costs, would a bag be able to weigh itself and transmit this information to the airline ahead of time.

I just know that I'm not happy with buying my bag, it's a purchase that I won't be content with until I've gotten on a plane. For now, I'll have to be ok with weighing the bag by hoisting it up and down to get a feel for it. Because it's not in their best interest to tell you how much of your weight they'll eat.

If only there were trains to allwhere

Day 11 - Wireless fever

The internet was off for 1 day, ONE!

I'd love to tell you that we saw the sun and heard the birds, but it was very inconvenient, because the phone line went down as well. As in no emergency calls! Not sure who thought that genius of a plan up.

If only we lived in a place where one could cause a fuss and it would make a difference, alas, Canada remains on the higher end of stupid when it comes to telecom. I recall a comparison between Rwanda and Canada way back in 2008 and being surprised by how expensive we have it here. Here's an image that sums it up.

Day 10 - Photo prompt, "background"

Celebrating is important, it's like going to the gym and noticing the changes in your body, it validates your efforts.

So for my 10th post, and because I know I need to give myself a break from coming up with post ideas, I'm celebrating by going to Pexels, typing "background" in the search image, and writing whatever thoughts or memories are inspired by it.

What post will you celebrate and how?

Brown wooden dock over body of water

Brown wooden dock over body of water

Sunset, it once heralded the end of an eventful day, a meaningful day. But now, all he can do is sit at the end of the brown wooden dock.

He clearly remembers the Sunday when all meaning was lost. They called it a flash storm; really a wet microburst, with wind and rain gushing down with force strong enough to rip a roof off a building. Except all it did that Sunday is burst his heart, drowned it in a way.

He's been told he was lucky to survive, but he'd never felt so helpless in his life.

Tossed like a ragdoll, swallowed under the water, beat around till his spine was crushed. Constantly reminded that the only reason he survived was because he turned around for a moment.

Now he waits each evening, at the end of the brown wooden dock.

Day 9 - Men with friends

I took the time to schedule calls with two male friends. We hadn't caught up in some time and it felt good to have a catch up call, for the sake of one.

We're not co-located, although, even when we were, we didn't make the time to meet, and converse about important things like family, challenges, recent aspirations, pitfalls. You know, solid conversations, ones that don’t revolve around the latest tv show, or sports what mostly seems surface level, comfortably tired “how’s the weather” arms length conversation.

There are arguments for small talk and its benefits, one of which is allowing people to engage with others without delving too deeply into what may be too personal, or as a form of protection for females from overtly aggressive males. I digress.

I’ve noticed that my interactions with male friends have petered out over time. It happens with female friends as well, but not as strongly. I remember wondering why my father had less friends as I grew older, a quick search for men and friendships, and there are a lot of anecdotes that say the same.

As we men age, we have less and less friends. Especially male friends. If you’re interested, there’s a book about it “Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships” by Geoffrey Greif. One point he makes is that men rely on “shoulder to shoulder” relationships and women enjoy “face to face” relationships. The distinction between the two being experiencing activities vs engaging in vulnerable and emotional exchanges in conversation. This leads to increased loneliness and poorer health. Arguably, leading to an earlier dance with the dirt.

For my part, I think I need to take my male friendships as seriously as a first date. Really think through the questions that will help me learn more about them, and really try to listen to what’s not being said.

Here’s the article I found:

Day 8 - Confidence Kink

While waiting for little dude to get his feed on, I was mindlessly scrolling the news app , which by the way, I’ve noticed more recently has an alarming number of articles that read like amazon shopping lists. So I figure New York Times, that must be decent, and I came across an article titled “Practical Ways to Improve Your Confidence (and Why You Should)” by Eric Ravenscraft.

I wasn’t very confident growing up, for many reasons, most of which I’m not rich enough to work out with a therapist. So this article peaked my interest, Medium the other day tried to get me to subscribe because I was reading a lot of “self-help” articles. It even had copy touting the benefits consuming the articles they have all ready for me. The nerve!

So I guess, what I’m saying is they don’t have the credibility of a free New York Times article. Which was pretty good, it broke down the difference between Self-Efficacy, Self-Confidence, and Self-Esteem. Highlighted the difference between real confidence and arrogance. One requires internal the other external validation. It also included interesting tips.

Which reminded me about the moment I shed my shyness. It was fairly simple, I was young, graduated, heavily indebted, couldn’t find a job, so I decided to live in another country. Only, I decided I would leave myself behind. I’d keep the parts of me that I liked, that I was confident were necessary for me to exist. And decided to adopt a the opposite of whatever I didn’t like about myself.

Shy? Hold people’s gaze, regardless of who I think they might be.
Quiet? Make myself heard, repeat firmly and slowly
Unattractive? Grow my hair and have the barber have at it.
Unhealthy? Walk everywhere, and watch the sugar, literally, for every treat, I walked to the corner shop, let my eyes take in the sugar, and left content with the knowledge that the sugar I really wanted, was in a location far less accessible.

Did all this work? In some ways it did. I found that I became a lot more curious, and with that, less judgemental of others and myself. Not everyone can afford to reinvent themself by leaving their country.

But I learned what the difference between these two locations were. In the version of me I didn’t like, there happened to be people who didn’t get the memo that I changed. After all, home is where the heart is, and if your best interest isn’t at heart, find a new home.

Day 7 - What Company?

When you hear the word company, what's the first image that pops in to your mind? Perhaps an office space? Maybe a bit grey and drab, possibly where dreams go to die?

Or a place of business, maybe overseeing a factory that churns out something that is important yet somehow completely disconnected from your everyday reality?

Does your mind then drift into the other uses of the word? To keep someone company, or friendship and enjoyment?

The old French and Latin terms Compagnie and Companio respectively mean a “society, friendship, intimacy body of soldiers” and “one who eats bread with you”.

Those words remind me of a word seldom associated with work in a company. Companion.

A recent gallup global poll on engagement in the workplace surmised that the most engaged people are those who work in teams. Even then, engagement was only at 25%

What would happen if there were a more concerted effort to focus on the overlooked aspect of company within companies. Intimacy, friendship and society?

After all, it’s definitely harder to eat bread with a legal entity.

Day 6 - Qahwa!

The last day of Ramadan has come and with it dreams of percolating caffeine. It's been a challenging one, this month of fasting.

I used to pride myself on the fact that I started fasting when I was fairly young, it was my sacred duty to stop eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, to incredulously frown at my biological itch for all things sugar and nice.

This one has been one of the more difficult ones, I think they've become steadily more difficult as time ticks on. I don't think I've let myself admit that until now. What's given me the courage to admit it however, is an external factor. A newborn.

At 2 months of age the amount of energy they require, and the amount of sleep I need are inversely proportional. So I have an excuse.

All the same, I plan to take back control, I've already setup my station, ready for the first hit in the morning.

Grinder, beans, frother, dripper, paper, and CBC radio.

I'm ready for my Qahwa.